28 Days Later... How Knebworth featured in virus movie sequel
PUBLISHED: 12:04 20 April 2020 | UPDATED: 12:04 20 April 2020
Today marks 28 days since the UK was placed in coronavirus lockdown by the Prime Minister.
Twenty-eight days later, the country has dramatically changed following Boris Johnson’s speech from Downing Street.
Pubs, clubs and restaurants have temporarily closed their doors.
Theatres, museums and cinemas are shut. Music venues have fallen silent.
The streets are eerily quiet as people stay indoors and only venture out for essential journeys to work, food shopping, medicines and daily exercise.
At times it feels like a ghost town outside, and strangely reminiscent of Danny Boyle post-apocalyptic masterpiece 28 Days Later, the sequel of which was filmed at Knebworth.
Boyle’s 2002 zombie horror thriller depicts the breakdown of society following the accidental release of a highly contagious virus.
Four weeks after the mysterious ‘Rage Virus’ outbreak infects the country, a handful of survivors try to find sanctuary.
Written by Alex Garland and directed by Slumdog Millionaire Oscar winner Boyle, 28 Days Later was inevitably followed in 2007 by 28 Weeks Later.
Set six months after the original epidemic has inflicted the population of Great Britain, the sequel by Spanish writer/director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo stars Jeremy Renner, later Hawkeye in the Marvel Comics Avengers movies, Idris Elba, and Robert Carlyle, who appeared in Boyle’s Trainspotting.
A memorable – and very bloody – scene from 28 Weeks Later was shot on location in the Hertfordshire countryside.
Knebworth Park doubled for the rendezvous point in London’s Regent’s Park for a gory sequence in which a horde of fast-moving infected rampage around a helicopter.
They meet a gruesome end though, as helicopter pilot Flynn (Harold Perrineau), a friend of Renner’s US Army character, Delta Force sniper Sergeant Doyle, flies the chopper into the infected with the rotor blades hacking them to pieces.
A person later walking their dog on the Hertfordshire estate got a nasty surprise after the film crew had left, as last summer’s film and TV exhibition at Knebworth House revealed.
The exhibition notes stated: “When, a few days later, a dog walker came across a pile of congealed fake blood, it took some explaining that nothing untoward had happened.
“It had simply been left behind by zombies.”
Original movie 28 Days Later starred Cillian Murphy, who later found fame in Peaky Blinders, and Naomie Harris, who went on to play Eve Moneypenny in James Bond blockbusters Skyfall and Spectre.
It also featured Our Friends in the North’s Christopher Eccleston, who later played Doctor Who, and Brendan Gleeson, who more recently played Knuckles McGinty in Paddington 2, which was also partly filmed on the Knebworth estate.
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